The Truth About Antibacterial Soap: Yay or Nay

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By Silvana Peters | May 27, 2014 3:03 PM EST

Using antibacterial soap, by it's very name gives users a sense of added protection. Antibacterial soap has been widely used around the world as a cleaning agent that uses antimicrobial ingredients to kill unwanted bacteria. However, recent studies show that they prove to be no more effective than any other type of cleaning soap and may actually be more harmful.

A recent study in the Oxford Journal led by Allison Aiello, PhD at the University of Michigan, has found that soaps that contain triclosan, which is the main ingredient of antibacterial soaps, is no more effective than other ordinary soap.

"The lack of an additional health benefit associated with the use of triclosan-containing consumer soaps over regular soap, coupled with laboratory data demonstrating a potential risk of selecting for drug resistance, warrants further evaluation by governmental regulators regarding antibacterial product claims and advertising. Further studies of this issue are encouraged," summarised the paper.

Triclosan is commonly found in everyday personal hygiene products, including dish washing soap, body wash and toothpastes, to name a few examples.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a statement regarding the substance, and while it acknowledges that there has been no evidence that it is hazardous to humans, the FDA is undertaking a review and at the time was not able to find "evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water."

Some animal studies on the triclosan have shown it has effects on hormones and has been linked to the development of resistant bacteria.

While using antibacterial soap does prove to be effective in a medical setting where patients are more susceptible to germs and bacterial, the concentrations are estimated to be about 10 times the strengthen than commercial soaps.

In recent news, Minnesota has become the first state to ban the use of Triclosan effective Jan 1, 2017. On Friday, Governor Mark Dayton signed a bill to prohibit the use of triclosan in most commercial personal care products due to its adverse health and environmental effects.

Further, the LA Times has reported that the Environmental Protection Agency has lab animals that have shown negative effects to triclosan and the study by the University of Minnesota revealed an "increased amounts of triclosan in several Minnesota freshwater lakes."

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